Dear FAS Faculty and Staff,
Today detailed information about the University's Voluntary Early Retirement Incentive Program announced last week is being shared with
all those who are eligible to participate. I would like to take this opportunity to put the program in context for the Faculty of Arts and
Sciences and to express my gratitude to all those long-serving members of the staff who will now consider whether this program is right for them.
The precipitous decline in the national economy has hit every household, business and nonprofit, and has not been immune. Our plans
and emerging actions assume that the endowment will be down 30 percent this year and that we must begin to adjust to this new fiscal reality
immediately. As you know from the activities in your own departments over the last few months, we are attempting to reduce overall spending
while still investing in the vital academic programs that will ensure FAS's excellence in teaching and research for years to come. University
leadership, working closely with the Council of Deans, has taken similar actions. The voluntary early retirement program is one such University
initiative that aims to help the Schools in their efforts to cut costs while minimizing impact on the workforce.
As we consider spending cuts in the FAS, we are acutely aware of the importance of our people: the faculty, staff, and students. Through the
efforts of our staff, the FAS is able to further cutting-edge research, support innovative pedagogy, and develop the unique learning environment
that defines who we are and enables us to make our contribution to the world, both through scholarship today and through training of tomorrow's
leaders. For staff's service, their dedication, their contributions to the many activities of the FAS, I am deeply grateful.
I am pleased that the University is in a position to offer an early retirement plan for those who are eligible and who may want to take
advantage of it. In addition to the benefits normally provided under Harvard's staff retirement programs, the package will include a lump-sum
retirement incentive, a monthly supplement to "bridge" early retirees to at age 62, and eligibility for retiree medical coverage.
Personalized information is being delivered to eligible employees in the Faculty of Arts & Sciences beginning today. Eligible staff
will have 45 days from the day of receipt of their packets to decide whether to opt in. Basic information about the program, including
a schedule of informational and financial counseling sessions and a list of contacts for questions or concerns, has been posted on HARVie
(http://harvie.harvard.edu). Though the University's program is for staff only, we are considering whether it might be appropriate also to
offer a retirement program for faculty.
With more than half of our $1 billion annual operating budget dedicated to compensation costs, it is clear that realigning FAS for the future
will depend on some changes to our current workforce. Let me assure you that we continue to explore every option available in order to limit
staff changes forced solely by our budget challenges. We hope that the level of participation in the voluntary early retirement program will
mitigate the need for further staff reductions. Such considerations will be made after the program has closed and results are assessed.
These are difficult times for everyone, and we understand that deciding whether to participate in this program will be a major decision for
many of our employees. Harvard is committed to providing our employees with the information and retirement counseling that they need to fully
consider the opportunity for early retirement provided by this program.
Michael D. Smith